Netflix Move Complicates "Internet TVs"

Netflix now is an app available to consumers who subscribe to Virgin Media cable TV services. And Netflix is said to be seeking similar deals with U.S. cable operators. At one level, the move simply would provide such cable customers more convenience when viewing Netflix on their TVs, turning the cable decoder into an Internet access device. 

At another level, Netflix becomes, if not a "cable channel," then at least a way to create more incentives for those video customers to buy faster broadband connections, and could provide another library of potential programming, as when a temporary programming dispute disrupts programming from one or more channels. 

The new capability, should a deal be worked out, also adds more value to a cable decoder, which otherwise remains largely a tuner and access control box. 

Such a deal also could affect end user appetite for "Internet TVs," as the use of the cable decoder in this way would enhance the experience of displaying Internet-sourced content for viewing on a digital, but not Internet-connected TV, much as an Internet-capable game player already provides such value. 

Though many cable operators might continue to worry about whether such a deal is the first step to Netflix becoming a bigger competitor, others might argue that trend is coming, in any case, and this approach at least makes it easy for cable video subscribers to use Netflix conveniently, as part of their video subscription. 

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